Confirming what has been anopen secret for several weeks, Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures issued ajoint statement announcing they have begun pre-production on the sequel totheir global smash The Chronicles OfNarnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe.

Andrew Adamson reprises hisdirector's role on The Chronicles OfNarnia: Prince Caspian, which reunites most of the cast from last year'spicture and is set to begin shooting later this year in time for a Christmas2007 release.

Adamson will produce andco-write with Christopher Markus and Steve McFeeley. This time around thePevensie children return to Narnia, where 1,000 years have passed since theyleft, and help the rightful prince and ruler overcome an evil villain.

Prince Caspian was first published in 1951 and is the second book in the seven-bookseries written by C S Lewis. It was intended as a continuation of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe garnered three Oscar nominations earlier this weekfor visual effects, sound mixing and make-up.

It has grossed more than$637.8m globally and ranks as Buena Vista International's biggest live-actionrelease of all-time on more than $359.4m.

"We're thrilled to beworking with such a great director as Andrew, and our friends at Walden Media,in bringing the next chapter of the Narnia chronicles to the big screen,"Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook said.

Walden Media co-founder andchief executive officer Cary Granat added: "Andrew Adamson, who possessesan unparalleled passion and vision for the Narnia books, brought C S Lewis'world to life in an imaginative and exciting way.

"With Prince Caspian, moviegoers will have anopportunity to revisit the magic of Narnia, encountering exciting new creaturesand lands within Narnia alongside their favorite characters from these beloved books."